Like General Grant, I was bound for Atlanta, but like General Stoneman I had to spend a little more time in Macon than planned. No money to leave town until week’s end. Aside from the shelters, the bleached-white, colonial-looking Washington Memorial Library is the place for transients to kill time.
After doing some research and writing there, I wandered across the street to Washington Park, where a WMAZ news van idled.
"What’s the big story?" I asked a technician who was resting in the van’s belly, with the side door open.
"Trayvon vigil in an hour," he said. "You’re right on time."
It actually turned out to be a tribute to “the Martins”—Trayvon Martin and Martin Luther King, Jr. About 20 people showed up to hear a little boy recite M.L.K.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and some adults cry for justice in the Trayvon “Stand Your Ground” killing. The event was as dreary you’d expect of a plea for basic civil rights that folks died making 50 years ago. During the closing moment of silence, I imagined spectral, mocking voices. They were saying: still dreaming?
After two more nights in Macon’s overcrowded shelters, I cashed a paycheck and headed northeast to Atlanta, out of God’s country. The sky in the Atlanta metro area is much further away than in the high-elevation “heart of Georgia,” where the clouds always seem just out of reach, and the churches are just another part of the landscape.